The Pallottine fathers have served both our school and the parish in Clerkenwell for more than fifty years. Situated in the Islington Deanery, the Parish of Clerkenwell was founded in 1842 and the church was built in 1847.
Considered by many today as the forerunner of Catholic Action, Vincent Pallotti was a very modern saint who organised many remarkable pastoral programs. A visionary man with great ideas and inspiration, his many accomplishments include the founding of the Pallottine Fathers and the Pallottine Missionary Sisters. But his accolades far exceed this and his legacy left behind schools, guilds, and institutes that carried the Catholic mission into the very heart of contemporary society.
Born in Rome in 1795, Pallotti began studies for the priesthood very early. Ordained as a priest at twenty-three, he earned a doctorate in theology soon afterward. Awarded an assistant professorship at the Sapienza University, he resigned soon after to devote himself to pastoral work. On the 4th of April 1835 he founded the Union of Catholic Apostolate, bringing together lay people, women and men, and priests united as a faith community for the common purpose of living and spreading the word of God.
Pallotti gave special emphasis to the fact that every Christian has received a special share in the mission of Christ for the Church and the world. Pallotti was aware that bishops, priests and religious leaders could not carry the total responsibility for evangelisation. Lay people, too, had the right to actively participate in the mission of the Church.
Soon his zeal was known all over Rome. He was tirelessly dedicating schools and lessons for shoemakers, tailors, coachmen, carpenters, and gardeners so that they could develop skills and better work at their trade, as well as evening classes for young farmers and unskilled workers. Pallotti was also known to give away his possessions, books, and even clothes to the poor.
He died at the age of fifty-five and was canonized by Pope John XXIII in 1963. Pope Paul VI said that Pallotti teaches us ‘to respect the vocation of lay Christians by providing adequate opportunity for its mature development’. The Pallotines today are part of the Union of Catholic Apostolate and are present in fourty five countries across six continents. Members work as everyday missionaries to ‘renew faith and rekindle love’. They work to fulfil the mission of their founder in the modern world. The Pallottines today have major houses in Britain, Germany, New York, Poland, India, Ireland and several other locations around the world.